Friday, February 21, 2014
Not everyone is happy with these changes. The National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys (NAAUSA), which represents a minority of federal prosecutors, urged senators not to “weaken the benefits of mandatory minimum sentencing” — ie, the fact that harsh sentences terrify defendants into co-operating with prosecutors. One member of the NAAUSA frets that without mandatory minimums, “we are headed for a crime-riddled future.”
Yet reform continues. Barack Obama has yet to commute many long federal sentences, but the Justice Department wants to find more candidates for presidential clemency. On February 11th Mr Holder urged states to repeal laws that bar ex-convicts from voting. Anecdotal evidence from federal courts in Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia shows that some judges are already shifting position because they expect the Smarter Sentencing Act to pass. Advocates for ever-harsher sentences appear to be losing the whip hand.